20 philosophical films that will make you think

At certain moments of life, it is common for every person to think about his destiny, to look for the meaning of earthly existence, to reconsider life values. Some in search of answers to eternal questions rashly rely on their minds, others ask how to get to the library. Cinema can become a reliable help in understanding oneself and the world. The creators of the best philosophical films, from box office blockbusters to extraordinary arthouse, have embarked on a spectacular search for truth more than once.

The Box (2021)

The once successful producer is going through hard times, and the young talented musician is afraid of performing in front of the public. Acquaintance with each other completely changes the fate of the characters. The producer comes up with a way to overcome the phobia, and together with the young talent, he sets off on a dizzying journey towards fame, music and dreams. In the musical novelty of the cinema , which has already received a high audience rating, covers of world and South Korean hits sound.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Deo bakseu

Genre:
Drama, music

Actors:
Park Chan-yeol, Cho Dal-hwan, Gaeko…

Country:
South Korea

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 8.2

Age limit:
12+


Narcissus and Chrysostom (2020)

A new philosophical film about the search for the meaning of life is based on the famous novel by Hermann Hesse. The Middle Ages are drawing to a close. The handsome and talented young man Chrysostom, at the insistence of his father, continues his studies in the monastery, where he does not find understanding among his peers. But under the influence of a mentor, the ascetic Narcissus, the new novice is rapidly advancing along the path of spiritual growth. When young people’s views on life diverge sharply, Chrysostom leaves the narrow walls of the monastery.

Original title:
Narziss und Goldmund

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Yannis Nivener, Sabine Tambrea, Henriette Confurius…

Country:
Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 6.2

Age limits :
16+


Incredible world through the eyes of Enzo (2019)

A novice race car driver , returning from training, acquired a puppy. A golden retriever named Enzo has become not only a good friend , but also a real mascot for a rising motorsport star. The racer wins more and more victories, and also starts a relationship with a girl, which causes jealousy of a pet. However, even in the bitter moments of failure, the faithful Enzo comes to the aid of the owner.

Original title:
The Art of Racing in the Rain

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Kevin Costner, Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seifred …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.0, IMDb – 7.6

Age restrictions:
12+


Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

A fantastic philosophical film that makes you think, continues the events of Ridley Scott’s iconic cyberpunk dystopia. In the far future, the planet’s ecological crisis is deepening, and a new generation of replicants has been created to do the hard work. A police officer, having destroyed an old-style replicant, becomes the owner of dangerous information that can turn the world order upside down.

Original title:
Blade Runner 2049

Genre:
Fiction, Action, Thriller, Drama, Detective

Actors:
Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas…

Country:
USA, UK, Hungary, Canada, Spain

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 8.0

Age restrictions:
16+


Arrival (2016)

Screen adaptation of the story “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chan, one of the most titled science fiction writers of our time. Aliens arrive on Earth . The plans and intentions of the aliens are not clear, but a group of scientists is studying visitors from space to establish contact. An outstanding linguist deciphers the language of aliens step by step, not even suspecting how much this work will change the future of mankind.

Original Title :
Arrival

Genre:
Fantasy, Thriller, Drama, Detective

Actors :
Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker …

Country:
USA, Canada, India

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Boyhood (2014)

A wise film with a deep philosophical meaning was filmed over twelve years and is based on real events from the life of an ordinary child. The boy goes through his parents’ divorce and his mother’s remarriage, tries alcohol and drugs , meets his first love and goes to college. Growing up takes place against the backdrop of the cultural and political context of the era.

Original title:
Boyhood

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette…

Country :
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.9

Age restrictions:
18+


Cloud Atlas (2012)

A fantastic foreign blockbuster with an unpredictable ending is a kind of philosophical film consisting of six stories. Events unfold in the interval from the slave-owning South of the USA in the second half of the 19th century to a primitive post-apocalyptic existence in the distant future. Diverse, but intertwined episodes are linked together by the reincarnation of one soul.

Original title:
Cloud Atlas

Genre:
Fantasy, drama, action, detective, adventure

Actors:
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon…

Country:
USA, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.4

Age restrictions :
18+


Melancholia (2011)

Earth is threatened by a collision with the planet Melancholia. A woman cares for her sister, who has fallen into depression on the eve of her wedding, and follows the news with anxiety. Over time, the difficult mental state of the bride is replaced by peace, and the sisters are forced to switch roles – now the other one falls into the abyss of despair, unable to accept the inevitable. Drama, included in the top philosophical films, the cult Danish director conceived after a personal experience of dealing with depression.

Original title:
Melancholia

Genre:
Fantasy, drama

Actors:
Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgard …

Country:
Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Tree of Life (2010)

An eleven-year-old boy lives in the most ordinary family. The father teaches the future man to be persistent and always achieve his goal, and the mother teaches compassion and philanthropy. Habitual existence completely changes after the death of a younger brother – each family member experiences the tragedy in his own way. Penetrating Philosophical American fantasy cinema was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Original title:
The Tree of Life

Genre:
Fantasy, drama

Actors:
Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
16+


Moon 2112 (2009)

Fantastic philosophical cinema touches upon the deep problems of psychology, reinforcing the meaning of what is happening in the film with an unusual setting. The astronaut’s three-year expedition to the lunar station is coming to an end. Throughout the entire period, Sam remains alone and communicates only with the robot . Gertie, endowed with artificial intelligence . Long isolation from the world ends, as the hero believes, but after an accidental accident, the astronaut learns a terrible secret.

Original title:
Moon

Genre:
Fantasy, drama

Actors:
Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominic McElligot …

Country:
UK, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.8

Age restrictions:
16+


Mister Nobody (2009)

In the distant future, thanks to the artificial renewal of cells, humanity has conquered death. There is only one mortal person left on the planet – a deep old man living his last days. The hero, a planetary celebrity, tells a journalist about his past. The clarity of thought has long since left the old man, so the story is fragmentary and chaotic, and sometimes the story goes completely into some kind of parallel reality.

original title :
Mr. Nobody

Genre:
Fiction, melodrama, fantasy, drama

Actors:
Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger …

Country:
Belgium, Germany, Canada, France, UK, Luxembourg

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 7.8

Age restrictions:
18+


Serious Man (2009)

The professor of physics has a black streak in his life. The daughter steals money for plastic surgery, the wife demands a divorce, and the annoying idler brother has settled at home. Trying to escape from an existential crisis, the professor turns to the rabbis for advice. The thought-provoking philosophical and psychological film received two Oscar nominations.

Original title:
A Serious Man

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Michael Stuhlbarg, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolf…

Country:
UK, France, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 7.1

Age Limits :
16+


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

On the last day of the First World War , a very strange baby was born – in appearance and condition, the newborn looked like a very old man. The father threw the child into a nursing home, where a caring nurse took up the upbringing of the boy . Every year the hero is getting younger, living an ordinary human life in reverse order. Mind-expanding sci-fi drama based on a short story by Francis Scott Fitzgerald.

Original title:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Genre:
Drama, fantasy

Actors:
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, Mahershala Ali, Elle Fanning…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.1, IMDb – 7.8

Age restrictions:
16 +


Fountain (2006)

A selection of films with philosophical overtones continues with a poignant parable from the creator of the cult Requiem for a Dream. A young woman is at risk of dying from a brain tumor. A worried oncologist spouse is looking for a way to save his beloved. Hopes are pinned on an extract from an exotic plant, but gradually attempts to create a cure develop into a search for the mythical Tree of Life.

Original title:
The Fountain

Genre:
Fantasy, drama, melodrama, detective

Actors:
Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn …

Country:
Canada, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Babylon (2006)

The list of the best films on philosophical topics continues with an exciting drama with a high rating. The three stories take place in different parts of the world, but are closely connected. A married couple in Morocco for whom everything changes after his wife is injured; a nanny taking her charges to her son’s wedding in Mexico; a deaf-mute teenage girl from Japan, trying to find her place in the world – different inhabitants of modern Babylon equally need to understand others.

Original title:
Babel

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, El Fanning, Michael Peña…

Country:
France, USA, Mexico

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.4

Age Limits :
16+


Peaceful Warrior (2006)

A talented, but arrogant gymnast performs triumphantly at competitions, is popular with girls and selflessly comes off at parties . A serious injury puts an end to a sports career . Acquaintance with a strange man nicknamed Socrates, who knows how to penetrate the secrets of consciousness, completely turns the future of the hero. Working on yourself allows you not only to successfully return to big-time sports, but also to find the true meaning of life.

Original title:
Peaceful Warrior

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, sports, biography

Actors:
Scott Mechlowitz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart…

Country:
USA, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.8, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:
12+


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

A shy guy and a lively blue-haired girl meet on the train . Sympathy and mutual understanding arise between young people, as if they had always known each other. This quivering closeness has a rather shocking explanation. The famous fantasy melodrama is worth watching for all connoisseurs of high-quality romantic stories with an interesting plot, where there is a place for adventure and philosophy.

Original title:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Genre:
Melodrama, fantasy, drama

Actors:
Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Jerry Robert Byrne …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.0, IMDb – 8.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Big Fish (2003)

The traveling merchant loved to share stories from his life, but he always pretty much lied – so much so that stories about real events seemed like fantastic tales. When an inveterate inventor dies of cancer, the son who came to see his father on his last journey realizes that almost all stories were based on reality, only the narrator reinterpreted the true facts in a symbolic way.

Original title:
Big Fish

Genre:
Fantasy, drama, romance, adventure

Actors:
Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Marion Cotillard…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 8.0

Age restrictions:
12+


Spring, summer, autumn, winter … and again spring (2003)

No one is able to prevent the change of seasons and no one is able to stop the cycle of the wheel of samsara. In a floating pagoda, an elderly monk, almost enlightened, instructs a young novice. Only after long lived years and many mistakes made, the grown-up boy realizes all the wisdom of the teaching and takes the right path. The philosophical feature film is filled with references to Buddhist religious texts.

Original title:
Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Oh Yeon-soo, So Jae-kyung, Kim Young-min…

Country:
South Korea, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 8.0

Age limit:
16 +


Dogville (2003)

Fleeing from a gang of gangsters , a young American woman finds shelter in a small town called Dogville. Local residents allow the runaway to stay, but in return they ask for some services. Grace agrees to the conditions put forward, but the demands become more stringent until the town turns into a real prison for the girl , and decent residents into rapists. Lars von Trier’s film, extraordinary in form and content, was filmed in theatrical scenery – the boundaries of houses and rooms are indicated only conditionally.

Original title:
Dogville

Genre:
Thriller, drama, detective

Actors:
Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Harriet Andersson, Patricia Clarkson, Stellan Skarsgård…

Country:
Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, France, Finland, Norway, Italy

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 8.0

Age limit:
18+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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